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Discovering China

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The People's Republic of China, commonly known as just China, is an East Asian country. It is one of the region's largest countries and the 4th largest country in the world, stretching over some 9,706,961 km², extending to the Pacific Ocean and sharing its borders with the Gobi desert and the Himalayas. China has many major cities, namely Beijing, the capital city, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

In the last decade, China has emerged as one of the leading destinations for expats worldwide. Be it career and business opportunities, stunning geographical diversity, ancient treasures of the country’s more than 5,000-year old history or more, China welcomed close to 70 million foreign visitors in 2016 alone and its expat population has surpassed 800,000.

Demography and language

As of 1 January 2017, the population of China was estimated to be 1.38 billion people. It is still the most populated country in the world, representing nearly a fifth of the global population. The country is officially composed of 56 ethnic groups: 55 minorities and the dominant Han ethnicity making up over 91% of the population. China’s official language is Mandarin, however, several dialects are spoken throughout different regions with six dialect groups officially recognised (not including the standard Mandarin): Wu, Gan and Xiang in central China, and Min, Hakka and Yue on the southeast coast. English learning is widely spread with most children starting their English studies as early as primary school. The estimated number of Chinese nationals who speak English is 200 million and English is increasingly used as the language of business communication.

China's expat population

It’s hard to say exactly how many foreign nationals are currently residing in China. The country’s most recent National Census held in 2010 puts the number of foreign residents at over 600,000, while Global Times reports the number of registered expats at  848,500 in 2013. The 2010 census also shed light on the country’s expat demographic, registering that 74% of expats were male and only 8% of the country’s foreign population spoke Chinese. Shanghai is the city most favoured by expats in China with Beijing and Shenzhen taking second and third positions respectively.

Major holidays in China

China celebrates several main holidays throughout the year, the most important being:

  • Spring Festival (or Chinese New Year), celebrated in winter according to the Lunar Calendar. This is the country’s biggest holiday and the time when people come back home to visit their families. The event is the largest human migration in the world with the number of passenger journeys hitting 2.9 billion in 2016.
  • Qingming (or Tomb Sweeping Day), April 4 or 5, a day for showing respect to ancestors
  • May Day, May 1, Labor Day
  • Dragon Boat, the 5th of the 5th lunar month, a day for commemorating the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar and poet Qu Yuan
  • Mid-Autumn Festival, 15h day of the 8th lunar month (usually in Autumn), harvest festival
  • National Day, October 1 (the official holiday typically lasts from October 1 to 7), the day marks the formation of the People's Republic of China

 Good to know:

Visiting China during Spring Festival may be tricky. Most of the local businesses are closed and some public transport routes will be exceptionally busy.

Economy

Chinas’s economy is classified as a socialist market economy and is the world’s second largest by nominal GDP (after the United States). It recorded a growth rate of 6.9% in the first quarter of 2017, fuelled by a strong expansion in factories and the country remains the largest contributor to global growth. 

China is the world’s largest manufacturing hub as well as the world’s most prolific exporter. Industrial manufacturing remains the dominant sector: machine building, textiles and apparel, consumer electronics, food processing, transportation and more. The country is the world’s largest exporter of textile, laptops, TVs, cameras, watches and toys.

The service sector is catching up quickly as the country is transitioning into a modern economy - it took half the share of the nation’s GDP for the first time in 2015.

China is home to some of the world’s biggest and most well-known tech companies like Alibaba, Huawei, DJI, Tencent and the country’s young southern city Shenzhen has been dubbed the world’s Silicon Valley of hardware. There is also a strong presence of international and foreign companies in the country, accelerating its economic growth.

China also possesses natural resources such as rare metals: antimony, germanium, indium, fluorite, not to mention gas and petroleum.

Politics

The People's Republic of China is governed by 3 main bodies: the Communist Party, the State, and the Chinese Army. Power is centralised in Beijing through its administrative agencies and other public institutions. Xi Jinping is the President of the People's Republic of China, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party while Li Keqiang is the Prime Minister of the Council of State Affairs.

Climate

China’s large size means that it has a vast diversity of climates.

The north is characterised by hot and dry summers (26°C /79°F) and harsh cold winters, temperatures falling as low as - 20°C

(-4°F). The central area stretching along the Yangtze River has long and humid summers and rather cold winters. Southern China, on the other hand, enjoys long hot summers and short mild winters. Central, southern and western parts of the country are prone to flooding and there is minor periodic seismic activity in the region.

The best time to visit China is early autumn and spring, specifically during the months of September, October, March or April when the temperatures are pleasant and the rainfall is at its lowest.

 Attention:

The northwest of China is prone to bouts of extreme air pollution. Make sure to check AQI (air quality index) prior to your travels.

 Useful links: 

AQI Air Quality app
Chinese Holiday Calendar
Ctrip

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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